Glossary

In your lupus journey, you may have come across several unfamiliar words, medical terms, and mysterious acronyms. This glossary has been assembled to help you as you learn more about lupus and BENLYSTA. Having a greater understanding of these terms may be important when you are talking to your healthcare team, and when you are considering treatment options.

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Active disease

A presence of symptoms that are related to lupus. Active disease is caused by inflammation in an organ or organ system.

Antibodies

Proteins inside the body that are part of the immune system. Antibodies attach themselves to foreign invaders (such as bacteria, viruses, etc.) to keep them from causing disease.

Antigen

Any substance the body recognizes as a foreign invader.

Antimalarials

While originally developed to treat malaria, these drugs are used to treat lupus.

Autoantibodies

Antibodies that work against your body. They are produced by autoreactive B cells.

Autoantigen

A substance produced by the body that the immune system in someone with lupus recognizes as being foreign.

Autoimmune disease

A disease in which the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.

Autoreactive B cells

Cells that react against the body. These are the cells responsible for creating autoantibodies.

B cells

Also called B lymphocytes, these are cells in the body that fight foreign invaders by creating antibodies.

Belimumab

The active ingredient in BENLYSTA, this protein helps to reduce abnormal immune system activity which helps to reduce the signs and symptoms of lupus.

Biologic

A treatment derived from living tissues or cells.

B-lymphocyte stimulator, or BLyS

A specific protein necessary for the survival of B cells. Too much BLyS, however, allows the autoreactive B cells to build up in the body.

BLyS-specific inhibitors

A class of medications that prevent BLyS proteins from stimulating the growth of autoreactive B cells.

BILAG Index

The abbreviation for British Isles Lupus Assessment Group index. This index is a checklist that your doctor uses to measure lupus disease activity in 8 organs/body systems.

Clinical trial

A carefully planned investigation of the effects of a particular medicine or medicines on humans. The usual goal of a clinical trial is to evaluate a drug's effectiveness as well as its safety profile.

Corticosteroids

These medicines, often simply called steroids, are used to reduce inflammation.

Cyclophosphamide

A drug used in the treatment of cancer that is sometimes also used to treat lupus.

Disease activity

The number and severity of the signs and symptoms of a disease.

Fatigue

The feeling of being tired, weak all over, or not having enough energy. Fatigue can also limit your ability to start or complete activities. Fatigue can also mean you need to sleep during the day, or limit your social activities.

FDA

The Food and Drug Administration, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Among many other responsibilities, the FDA handles the approval, regulation, and supervision of prescription drugs.

Flare

A measurable increase in disease activity in one or more organ systems. A flare will also involve new or worsening clinical signs and symptoms and/or laboratory measurements. There are different tools to assess disease activity; they include the SELENA-SLEDAI and BILAG Index.

Immune system

A complex system of tissues, organs, and processes that work to protect the body from harmful foreign invaders.

Immunosuppressants

Drugs that are used to suppress immune system activity.

Intravenous (IV) infusion

A solution of medication injected into a vein.

Lupus

A chronic disorder in which the immune system attacks the body; this can lead to inflammation. Also see systemic lupus erythematosus.

Lupus nephritis

Inflammation of the kidneys. It is one of the most serious complications that a patient with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus can have.

Monoclonal antibodies

Proteins produced in laboratories that copy the disease-fighting response of your natural antibodies to a specific antigen.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Drugs that are used to reduce pain and inflammation.

PGA

Short for "Physician's Global Assessment." This is a general assessment of a patient's overall well-being, which the physician rates on a scale from "0" (no disease activity) to "3" (severe disease activity).

Rheumatologist

A physician who specializes in disorders of the immune system that cause pain, soreness, or stiffness in muscles or joints. These disorders include lupus and arthritis.

SELENA-SLEDAI

A checklist that your doctor uses to track disease activity. It includes 24 signs and symptoms that may be experienced with lupus. SELENA stands for "Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment" and SLEDAI, for "Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index."

Standard therapy

The established, accepted course of treatment for a disease.

Subcutaneous injection

A method of delivering medication, a subcutaneous injection (SC or “Sub Q”) is a shot given into the fat layer between the skin and the muscle.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

A disease that results from abnormal activity in your immune system.

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